When and When Not to Use Vignettes

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Don’t destroy your video with special effects. Here’s a guide to using vignettes for the right purpose.

First, what’s a vignette?

  • A vignette is a visual effect used to frame a subject.
  • The word vignette is derived from the word vine.
  • In the old days , books are decorated with a pattern of vines around the edge.

What’s vignette in videography?

  • A gradient of color around the edges of a scene.

When to use black vignettes?

  • Emphasize a subject, especially in complex backgrounds, where the subject is not prominent.
  • Add a sense of drama, something of a nostalgia effect.
  • Even out a scene with one side looking too dark.

When to use white vignettes?

  • Add a sense of space, giving a more positive and open feel.
  • Works better in scenes that are already bright, like in outdoor daylight. It also works well in scenes with low color saturation and uncluttered background.
  • Even out a scene with one side looking too bright, like a lens flare.

When not to use vignette?

  • Do not use vignette if it has the opposite effect and if it de-emphasizes interesting details.

How to use vignettes the right way?

  • Do not add dark vignettes on top of overexposed areas, because it will give a gray tone instead of a darker tone.
  • Do not use the same smooth oval-shaped vignette in every scene.
  • If the subject is off-centre, shape the vignette so it’s off-centre.
  • Do not make the corners black.
  • It should be subtle and not in your face.


Feel free to comment and ask questions.

Adrian Lee
Camera and Video Editing Training



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